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Centre for African Conservation Ecology

 

 

The Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia has been breeding and placing purebred Anatolian/Kangal dogs to help farmers reduce livestock losses since 1994. These dogs are promoted as a non-lethal and environmentally-friendly way of mitigating human-carnivore conflict.

 

Gail Potgieter investigated the use of livestock guarding dogs on Namibian farms by interviewing farmers in the Cheetah Conservation Fund dog programme. The farmers and their herders were asked if they knew of incidents where their dogs killed either target predator or non-target species.

 

IN:

Potgieter, GC. (2011)

The Effectiveness of Livestock Guarding Dogs for Livestock Production and Conservation in Namibia. MSc, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Thesis

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Potgieter, GC, Kerley, GIH, Marker, LL. (in press)

More Bark than Bite? The Role of Livestock Guarding Dogs in Predator Control on Namibian farmlands.

Oryx

Online paper

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Potgieter GC, Marker, LL, Avenant, NL, Kerley, GIH (2013)

Why Namibian farmers are satisfied with the Performance of their Livestock Guarding Dogs

Human Dimensions of Wildlife 

Online paper

 

Background

Mitigating farmer-cheetah conflict is an important aspect of cheetah conservation, as the main populations of this species in southern Africa occur on farmlands. Black-backed jackal, leopard, caracal, and baboon are also commonly reported as the cause of livestock losses in Namibia. The guarding dogs bred by the Cheetah Conservation Fund have successfully reduced livestock losses to these predators, and farmers are generally satisfied with their performance. However, guarding dogs are known to harass wildlife in Namibia and other countries, and they have a reputation for killing predators in Europe.

 

What we found

·  Over half of the guarding dogs in the study reportedly killed target predator species.

·  The main target predator killed by dogs was black-backed jackal, followed by baboon; only one cheetah was killed under unusual circumstances.

·  The dogs and farmers combined killed more jackals than the farmers did alone before they received their dogs.

Only 18% of the dogs reportedly killed prey species, compared to the relatively high prevalence of dogs chasing wildlife (46%) reported in a previous study in Namibia.

 

Management advice

·  As the target predators that were most commonly killed by dogs in Namibia are relatively abundant, the impact of guarding dogs in this country is of little conservation concern. However, introducing large guarding dogs in areas where small- to medium-sized predators are threatened must be done with caution.

·  By reducing farmers’ losses to jackals, the guarding dogs may have an indirect positive effect on conserving larger, more endangered carnivores (e.g. cheetah and leopard) that they are less likely to kill. The use of guarding dogs thus remains an important tool for farmer-carnivore conflict mitigation.

·  Farmers that value wildlife on their farmland must take special care when training young livestock guarding dogs to reduce wildlife-chasing behaviour. The Cheetah Conservation Fund suggests that young dogs are accompanied by a herder and are reprimanded for barking at or chasing non-target species.